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Eskom promises to reveal (almost) all

Jul 09 2017 06:00
Dewald Van Rensburg

Johannesburg - Eskom has committed to providing most of the information about its operations that the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) needs to set next year’s tariff increases.

A leaked draft of Eskom’s application has revealed that the power utility is planning to ask for a 20% hike. But this figure is premised on a number of questionable economic assumptions.

Nevertheless, Eskom has called for Nersa to start the process of approving tariffs for next year anyway.

On Friday, Nersa held a hearing on Eskom’s application for condonation for not submitting a range of crucial operational and economic data to adjudicate the unusual one-year tariff request it is making for the 2018/19 year.

The list of things Eskom says it cannot submit includes detailed operational information on the suppliers of the coal burned at each station, the costs of each stage of coal handling and the water usage for each process in each plant.

Earlier this week, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse said it had convinced Nersa to hold Eskom to account by holding a public hearing on the power utility’s application to keep certain of its operating statistics a secret.

Eskom had said it could not provide key economic measures, such as capital expenditure, impairments and depreciation on a disaggregated basis.

Calib Cassim, Eskom’s general finance manager, said the source of coal purchases would be provided, but not the full granular detail about the origin of coal mixed and burnt at each station.

This is apparently impossible to accurately measure.

A timeline for these further disclosures would be given to Nersa, said Cassim.

Business Unity SA (Busa) accepted a number of Eskom’s excuses, but insisted that its non-submission of a slew of other operational data was “not acceptable”.

Jane Molony, deputy chair of Busa’s energy subcommittee, agreed that it was reasonable to start off the process of adjudicating Eskom’s application before all the information was in.

Among Busa’s major problems with Eskom’s information gaps is the supposed inability to forecast power demand because of uncertainty.

Molony called this assertion by Eskom “disingenuous” because there has always been uncertainty.

While the exact composition of coal burnt at each station may not be possible to provide, Molony said that coal cost “per type of contract” is an essential piece of information because of concerns about corruption – given revelations about alleged sweetheart deals with Gupta-owned coal mines.

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nersa  |  busa  |  eskom  |  tariff increases  |  sa economy

 
 
 

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